We do all we can, every day, to ensure that women are screened with annual mammography. But, in October- Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this is a topic that comes to mind even more frequently.
While there are many choices for a mammography in the Greater Newark area, few offer the type of comprehensive breast care available at Saint Michael’s Medical Center.
“We have a comprehensive program to address all of our patients’ breast cancer needs,” said Dr. Nadine Pappas, a breast surgeon who heads the Breast Imaging Center at Saint Michael’s. “It’s a very multidisciplinary approach to breast cancer.”
Dr. Pappas works with a team of radiologists, pathologists, and medical, surgical and radiation oncologists, along with nurse navigators. Together, they help guide patients through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the U.S. and is the second leading cause of death (behind heart disease), according to the American Cancer Society.
Pappas said it is particularly important for women to get routine mammograms after they are 40 years old. The American Cancer Society recommends that all women over the age of 40 have regular breast exams and mammograms. The frequency of such examinations and the specific age at which screenings should begin depend on an individual’s risk factors for breast cancer, such as personal and family medical history.
Where you are screened is important. Not all mammograms are equal. Saint Michael’s has state-of-the art mammography equipment, ensuring that women receive high-quality imaging that can detect cancer at its earliest stage.
Dr. Pappas said many women have put off getting a mammography because of the pandemic and are being diagnosed later in the course of the disease. When breast cancer is detected early, the results of treatment are significantly better.
“I’m sure it’s something we’ve all heard before, but early detection is really the best prevention,” Pappas said.
Pappas has been treating patients at Saint Michael’s since 2012. A graduate of the University of Medicine and Dentistry (now Rutgers Medical School), Pappas was initially attracted to Saint Michael’s because it had an option for uninsured women.
“In my private practice, I was running into a lot of women who had lost their insurance,” Dr. Pappas said. “When I learned about the “In the Pink” program at Saint Michael’s, it allowed me to treat women who otherwise might not have access to high quality breast care.”
Established in 1999, “In the Pink” receives funding from the state Department of Health’s New Jersey Cancer Education and Early Detection Program and Avon Breast Health Outreach Program and provides free screening and follow-up services to uninsured and underinsured men and women.
Dr. Shravan Kambam, Chief of Radiation Oncology , and Dr. Hamid Shaaban, the chief medical officer of Saint Michael’s and a medical oncologist work alongside Dr. Pappas to ensure that our patients are offered up to date and evidence based treatment at our Cancer Center
“We work as a team to ensure our patients received the best care,” said Dr. Shaaban. “We meet regularly, so we know what the other is doing and how it fits into our overall treatment strategy.”
“Our patients are not in this fight alone,” Dr. Kambam said. “There’s a whole team behind them not only treating them but supporting them.”